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While there are ways to "disguise" employment gaps, it is not a good idea to deceptively hide these periods of joblessness. Employment continuity is important, but hiding or falsely claiming employ dates is easily discovered.You need not emphasize these gaps, however. For example, if you went some months without a job, simply list the years with an employer, without noting the exact start and stop dates. If you left one job in March and didn't find another until September of the same year, just note the end date of one and the start date of another by stating the year. No obvious gap will appear and upon verification your dates will be confirmed.
Since you cannot "explain" obvious employment gaps in resumes, your first step is to minimize these events to get an invitation for an interview. However, you will need a well-constructed explanation at this treasured interview.
If you were laid off or downsized, let the interviewer know. Plan to expand, in a positive manner, on the simple fact of the act. If you were laid off or terminated for non-performance-based reasons, e.g., recession-generated lay off, design an answer that reassures interviewers.
While there is no "one size fits all" statement, you can indicate that the down economy lay offs were wide spread, with no upturn in sight at that time. Therefore, you took some time to reflect, refocus and consider new career (employer, position, etc.) directions.